May I introduce the propagule?

In April I was in Vero Beach, Florida for a bewitching week with friends. It is a barrier island, and the inland waterway is bordered by red mangroves Rhizophora mangle.

P1040475

Their name comes from their reddish stilt roots; the above-water sections help them breathe.

P1040397

These extraordinary trees and their roots provide important habitat for all sorts of fish, crustaceans and birds, including this American White Ibis,  Eudocimus albus, who is looking for crabs:

P1040339

Mangroves live in brackish water, and they have the most unusual reproductive system. They flower, like most plants, producing tiny inconspicuous downward-facing flowers:

P1040767

But instead of then producing seeds, they produce propagules, (a brand new word for me, sadly with too many letters to be very useful in Scrabble).

P1040769

These miniature plants stay attached to their mother plant while they grow a longer and thinner root:

P1040761

Eventually, they drop off into the water below:

P1040770

Once launched, they bob around vertically and drift with the tides and currents until they stick tip-down in the mud, and become a new tree.

The mangrove edges provide rich pickings for this Little Blue Heron, Egretta caerulea, foraging at low tide:

P1040603

Alone among herons, the pure white immature is entirely differently colored from this adult.

And in these lagoons there be manatees, which the early mariners thought were mermaids. To my delight we saw them, but not clearly enough to photograph, so this will have to do:

 

P1040754

Florida may conjure up images of Disneyworld, but it still has many wild and beautiful places.  More next time.

2 thoughts on “May I introduce the propagule?”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s